Although the guns had fallen silent on the Western Front in November 1918, Australian servicemen and women were still making their way home when this welcome card was published in May 1919.
The brainchild of returned soldiers Albert Aldersley (1897–1966) and Ernest Crossley (c. 1883–?), the card takes the form of a joke menu, wishing each digger ‘a SOUP-erabundance of good things’ and ‘the SWEETS of life you’ve so dearly earned’.
Cards such as this one, with space set aside to hand write the name of a suburb or town, made their appearance at street parties, formal receptions and processions organised by welcome home committees around the country.
Men like Crossley and Aldersley, who had lost his right eye in battle, came home to an uncertain future. Mechanisation had reduced the need for unskilled labour. Semi-skilled positions had been taken by women who were eager to contribute to the war effort and cheaper to employ.
The welcome menu may have been created as part of a vocational training program run by the Returned Soldiers Association (RSA) to help servicemen make the difficult transition back to civilian life. This may explain why the 1919 copyright application for the ‘Welcome menu’ lists its creators as Crossley and Aldersley of the Victorian Branch of the RSA.
On Anzac Day, we remember all Australians who served and died in war.